Many of our customers take vitamins to supplement their diet. However, before you reach for that bottle of vitamin C or fish oil pills, ask yourself whether you need them in the first place.
More than half of all Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or on occasion and are available without a prescription. Common supplements include vitamins, minerals and herbal products, also known as botanicals. People take these supplements to make sure they get enough essential nutrients and to maintain or improve their health. But not everyone needs to take supplements.
“It’s possible to get all of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy foods, so you don’t have to take one,” says Carol Haggans, a registered dietitian and consultant to the National Institutes of Health. “But supplements can be useful for filling in gaps in your diet.”
Some supplements may have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. Supplements can also cause problems if you have certain health conditions. And the effects of many supplements haven’t been tested in children, pregnant women and other groups. So talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re thinking about taking dietary supplements.
“You should discuss with your doctor what supplements you’re taking so your care can be integrated and managed,” advises Dr. Craig Hopp, an expert in botanicals research at NIH.
Dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as foods, not as drugs. The label may claim certain health benefits. But unlike medicines, supplements can’t claim to cure, treat or prevent a disease. “There’s little evidence that any supplement can reverse the course of any chronic disease,” says Hopp. “Don’t take supplements with that expectation.”
Evidence does suggest that some supplements can enhance health in different ways. The most popular nutrient supplements are multivitamins, calcium and vitamins B, C and D. Calcium supports bone health, and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants—molecules that prevent cell damage and help to maintain health.
Women need iron during pregnancy, and breastfed infants need vitamin D. Folic acid—400 micrograms daily, whether from supplements or fortified food—is important for all women of childbearing age.
Vitamin B12 keeps nerve and blood cells healthy. “Vitamin B12 mostly comes from meat, fish and dairy foods, so vegans may consider taking a supplement to be sure to get enough of it,” Haggans says.
Research suggests that fish oil can promote heart health. Of the supplements not derived from vitamins and minerals, Hopp says, “fish oil probably has the most scientific evidence to support its use.”
The health effects of some other common supplements need more study. These include glucosamine (for joint pain) and herbal supplements such as echinacea (immune health) and flaxseed oil (digestion).
Many supplements have mild effects with few risks. But use caution. Vitamin K, for example, will reduce the ability of blood thinners to work. Ginkgo can increase blood thinning. The herb St. John’s wort is sometimes used to ease depression, anxiety or nerve pain, but it can also speed the breakdown of many drugs—such as antidepressants and birth control pills—and make them less effective. Just because a supplement is promoted as “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. The herbs comfrey and kava, for example, can seriously damage the liver.
“It’s important to know the chemical makeup, how it’s prepared, and how it works in the body—especially for herbs, but also for nutrients,” says Haggans. “Talk to a health care provider for advice on whether you need a supplement in the first place, the dose and possible interactions with medicine you’re already taking.”
For vitamins and minerals, check the % Daily Value (DV) for each nutrient to make sure you’re not getting too much. “It’s important to consider the DV and upper limit,” says Haggans. Too much of certain supplements can be harmful.
Because supplements are regulated as foods, not as drugs, the FDA doesn’t evaluate the quality of supplements or assess their effects on the body. If a product is found to be unsafe after it reaches the market, the FDA can restrict or ban its use.
Manufacturers are also responsible for the product’s purity, and they must accurately list ingredients and their amounts. But there’s no regulatory agency that makes sure that labels match what’s in the bottles. You risk getting less, or sometimes more, of the listed ingredients. All of the ingredients may not even be listed.
A few independent organizations conduct quality tests of supplements and offer seals of approval. This doesn’t guarantee the product works or is safe; it just assures the product was properly made and contains the listed ingredients.
“Products sold nationally in the stores and online where you usually shop should be fine,” Coates says. “According to the FDA, supplement products most likely to be contaminated with pharmaceutical ingredients are herbal remedies promoted for weight loss and for sexual or athletic performance enhancement.”
For more personalized, on-the-go information about dietary supplements, check out NIH’s free updated app for your smart phone or tablet: My Dietary Supplements (MyDS). You can access it at http://myds.nih.gov.
The MyDS app provides the latest supplement information and lets you keep track of the vitamins, minerals, herbs and other products you take. You can even keep track of supplements taken by your parents, spouse or children.
“Deciding whether to take dietary supplements and which ones to take is a serious matter,” says Coates. “Learn about their potential benefits and any risks they may pose first. Speak to your health care providers about products of interest and decide together what might be best for you to take, if anything, for your overall health.”
Source: National Institutes of Health
Do you forget things? We don’t mean the name of someone you just met or not remembering where you left your keys. Do you forget the names of people who have been part of your daily life? Do you have trouble recalling important events? Perhaps the way home from the store or work doesn’t seem familiar. Or you’re getting notices for late payments on bills that otherwise have been paid on time for years. You could be experiencing early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. About 4.5 million Americans suffer from this condition, which usually begins after age 60.
Could it be genetic?
People with Down syndrome tend to experience premature aging. They show physical changes related to aging about 20 to 30 years ahead of people of the same age in the general population. As a result, Alzheimer’s disease is far more common in people with Down syndrome than in the regular population. Adults with Down syndrome often are in their mid to late 40s or early 50s when Alzheimer’s symptoms first appear.
An international study of nearly 12,000 Swedish twin pairs — a fourth of them identical twins — now finds that some 80% of Alzheimer’s risk is genetic. University of Southern California psychologist Margaret Gatz, PhD, and colleagues reported the findings in the February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
“It appears that genetic influences outweigh environmental influences in relative importance for Alzheimer’s risk,” says Gatz.
What this means is that close relatives of people with Alzheimer’s disease are at much higher risk of getting the disease than people without such a relative. It does not, however, guarantee that having a relative with Alzheimer’s disease means that you are guaranteed to get Alzheimer’s disease.
The majority of Alzheimer’s disease cases are late-onset, usually developing after age 65. Late-onset AD has no known cause and shows no obvious inheritance pattern. However, in some families, clusters of cases are seen. Although a specific gene has not been identified as the cause of late-onset AD, genetic factors do appear to play a role in the development of this form of AD. Only one risk factor gene has been identified so far.
Researchers have identified an increased risk of developing late-onset AD related to the apolipoprotein E gene found on chromosome 19. This gene codes for a protein that helps carry cholesterol in the bloodstream. The APOE gene comes in several different forms, oralleles, but three occur most frequently: APOE e2, APOE e3, and APOE e4.
Does more weight mean more risk?
Believe it or not, obesity may mean you are at higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, too. The high insulin levels seen in obese people today means that Alzheimer’s could be at epidemic proportions in the years to come. People with diabetes are at a particularly high risk for developing AD.
What can I do?
The annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Walks take place throughout the year, primarily in the fall, in communities nationwide. In Wilmington, NC, the 2015 Walk to End Alzheimer’s event is happening at Mayfaire Town Center on November 7. Click here to get more details about walking and/or volunteering.
Sources: WebMD and ALZ.org
SEPTEMBER 14, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA — In conjunction with the Pender County Sheriff’s office, Village Pharmacy of Hampstead will be part of the Drug Take Back day on Thursday, September 24, 2015.
The community is encouraged to bring their expired, unused prescription and over-the-counter medications to Village Pharmacy at the Beacon 14057 US-17, Hampstead, NC.
“Perhaps a family member has passed away and has a medicine cabinet full of prescriptions”, says Elizabeth Caveness, PharmD, and owner of Village Pharmacy. “It’s important that these medicines be disposed of properly. You should never flush medications down the toilet or pour it down the drain. Nor should they be simply thrown in the trash.”
By carelessly discarding medicines, they could get into the wrong hands. Take precaution and we’ll take them back, no questions asked.
Date: Thursday, September 24, 2015
Time: 10:00am – 2:00pm
Village Pharmacy of Hampstead is a locally owned, independent pharmacy.
For additional information, contact Village Pharmacy at (910)-319-6050.
Dozens of new drugs were approved by the FDA over the past few months of this year. Ranging from cardiovascular medication to skin cancer treatment to type II diabetes treatment and new treatment for cystic fibrosis, read the information below to see if any of these new treatments may provide you some relief.
For cardiovasular patient, Repatha (evolocumab) by Amgen was approved in August for the treatment of high cholesterol. Additionally, Praluent (alirocumab) by Sanofi Aventis, was approved in July for the treatment of cardiovascular disease in people who require additional lowering of LDL cholesterol.
Corlanor (ivabradine), also by Amgen and Entresto (sacubitril and valsartan) by Novartis were both recently approved for the treatment of chronic heart failure.
Patients suffering from skin cancer now have a new treatment. Odomzo (sonidegib) by Novartis was approved for the treatment of locally advanced basal cell carcinoma. Odomzo is specifically indicated for the treatment of adult patients with locally advanced basal cell carcinoma that has recurred following surgery or radiation therapy, or those who are not candidates for surgery or radiation therapy.
Premenopausal women with generalized hypoactive sexual desire disorder now have a new treatment; Addyi (flibanserin) by Sprout Pharmaceuticals was approved in August.
Synjardy (empagliflozin and metformin hydrochloride) by Boehringer Ingelheim was also approved in August for the treatment of type II diabetes.
There is new hope for chemotherapy patients. Varubi (rolapitant) by Tesaro was approved just this month for the prevention of delayed nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.
Kidney transplant patients may have a new treatment for the prevention of organ rejection. Envarsus XR (tacrolimus extended-release) by Veloxis was approved in July and may provide hope for more successful transplant surgery.
Rexulti (brexpiprazole) by Otsuka as approved in July for the treatment of depression and schizophrenia.
Orkambi (lumacaftor and ivacaftor) by Vertex Pharmaceuticals was approved in July for the treatment of cystic fibrosis in patients 12 and older.
Some patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can now take Stiolto Respimat (tiotropium bromide and olodaterol). Producted by Boehringer Ingelheim, and approved in May by the FDA, Stiolto Respimat is specifically indicated for the long-term, once-daily maintenance treatment of airflow obstruction in patients with COPD.
As more drugs are approved, we’ll keep you up-to-date. If you have questions about any of these medications, ask one of our pharmacists for more information and ask your doctor if it is right for you.